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Unirii Square

piata unirii2 smallAddress

Timişoara, Cetate

Historical names

Hauptplatz, Domplatz, Losonczy tér, Unirii (Union) Square

Dating, historical functions

Until 1716, the square’s actual area was crossed diagonally from the south-east corner to the north-west one by the inner city’s defense wall. The fortification was made of earth, protected towards the outside by a massive timber logs palisade, plastered with lime. In front of the wall, to the outside, the fortress’ main moat lay. Damaged during the 1716 siege, the wall was later repaired.

Starting with 1733, several projects were made in order to set up a square here. Only after 1740 the defense wall started to be demolished. Subsequently, the city’s moat is filled with earth, and the square is paved with natural stone. The last remnants of the fortification existed in the square until 1745 to 1746.

Until after 1786, on the square area south of the Catholic Cathedral, forming the southern side of the Square’s east front nothing was yet built. Only afterwards was this Square’s fronton completely built and Unirii Square became a closed urban area.

Finally, a very large square (150 x 110 m) was made in relation to the size of the fortified city of that time (the new fortifications, bastion-like, built between 1732 and 1761, have incorporated a much wider area than the earlier fortifications, the new ones being well beyond the current square).

 

For three centuries, the square became the place of religious events, military parades and other political and prestigious cultural events. The square’s fronts were occupied by some of the city’s most important institutions.

 

Architectural style

Baroque, Classicist, 1900s style – szeceszió movement, eclectic historicist.

 

Other information

Today, the square is the largest reserve of Baroque architecture in the city. The most important buildings are the two cathedrals, the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox, now Serbian, as well as the Baroque Palace and the Trinity Monument, all belonging to the Baroque style – excepting some parts of the Orthodox Church, which are made in Classicist style. Later on, other buildings were raised belonging to other styles. In its current state, the square was set up between the years 1988 and 1989 (architect Serban Sturdza).

By creatively processing the suggestions offered by the existing urban texture characteristics, combining the exuberance of the Baroque façades with the Cartesian severity of the Cetate district plan, the remodeling author gave the square new valences, which tend to transform it into a true “outdoor salon”.

 

Premieres, legends, uniqueness aspects

Perhaps no other architecture ensemble reflects Timişoara’s open and tolerant spirit as this square. From the beginning, here were placed two cathedrals belonging to the two predominant religions in the city. In France in the first half of the eighteenth century this would not have been possible!

The square’s western front, later set up, is also significant: The Orthodox bishop’s residence, originally in an Austrian baroque style, was reshaped following its owner’s order by architect Székely, a true-born Hungarian, in order to match the “national Serbian” style (1904 to 1905). Above the Orthodox Community House facing the square – a building in the Classicist style, existing in 1821 to 1828 – architect Sturdza, offspring of a boyar family which gave Moldavia its rulers, built an Austrian baroque fronton, which never existed there (1983).

The Hungarian built in a “Serbian” style, and the Moldavian Romanian built in an “Austrian” style.

If we are to take into account the fact that just when the two frontons were built the governments in Budapest and the one in Bucharest excelled in aggressive, nationalist-chauvinist displays, it becomes obvious what represented the spirit of Timişoara in all these years!

 

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